The United States dismissed on Monday speculation that its decision to have direct talks with Iran on Iraq security indicated Washington had retreated from its long-term stand to isolate Tehran.
The bilateral talks will be "about Iraq and only Iraq," White House spokesman Tony Snow said at a news briefing. "So it hardly blows anything out of the water."
"What it does, once again, is reiterate the fact that if ... the Iranians do, in fact, want to be playing a constructive role in Iraq, that we're certainly amenable to having conversations about it," Snow said.
Both the United States and Iran announced Sunday that their officials will in the coming weeks to discuss Iraq's security.
The planned talks will involve U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, who met briefly with a deputy foreign minister of Iran in early May when they were attending a two-day international conference on Iraqi security held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
"This is not about the United States and Iran. This is about Iraq. This is about Iran playing a constructive policy role inside Iraq," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who was visiting Egypt at the time, also said that the United States is willing to talk to Iran as long as the conversations are limited to Iraq.
The United States severed diplomatic ties with Iran in 1980, five months after Iranian students occupied the American embassy in Teheran.
It also accuses Iran of developing secretly nuclear weapons and of supporting terrorism and allowing terrorists to use their border to enter Iraq to fight against the U.S.-led coalition troops.
Iran denies the U.S. charges, noting its nuclear drive is for peaceful energy production.
The United States has said time and again that there is no change of policy towards Iran and Syria although the United States will join the two countries in talks on Iraq.